Executive presence is at play when a person walks into a board room, a staff meeting, or a negotiations session and the room goes quiet. This quiet reception is a sign of respect which is the demonstration of high regard for an individual due to his or her personal qualities and achievements. Executive presence earns dignity and respect, and the executive with presence knows that dignity and respect override being liked.
The executive with presence is grounded … he or she is all present. It is not just bodily presence; it is the totality of body and mind exhibited through effective interactions with others. Your body is not only in the room, your entire focus is in the room at all times.
To demonstrate executive presence, you show that you can effectively manage conflict; that you listen to all sides of an issue with all parties present while clarifying as they progress through the discussion. To be a strong executive, you understand that conflict often results in positive actions and, therefore, as the executive, you keep all comments straightforward and honest so that trust and collaboration are developed with all employees of the company. Above all, as the executive with presence, you stay company focused.
As an executive who possesses presence, you have developed an understanding that the organization is operating within a network of cultures. You show you are a willing participant in change within a changing world. You realize that all too often to stay the course is to simply maintain the status quo. You are cognizant that information comes from many directions, including academics as well as the street; and you are capable of retaining and using information from all levels.
With practice, you master the ability to speak like an executive. When presenting an agenda, you speak with quiet authority, clear language, and vocabulary that is appropriate for the situation at hand. You stay focused on the point and do not go into “speech mode.” You intuitively sense how much to speak and when not to speak. You always remain positive in speech and posture. Your bodily felt sense of presence guides you from within to speak clearly and succinctly using a strong and decisive tone of voice that comes from your heart and encourages others to give their best. When things get tense, you can surprise people with a sense of appropriate humor.
Listening is vital to maintain your executive presence. You have trained yourself to focus in the present moment through eye contact, posture, and alertness. By staying completely engaged, you know that coworkers and staff remain engaged as well.
You are clear that you are not perfect. You have to take risks and make strong decisions in order to lead. Sometimes you make mistakes. Importantly, you admit mistakes and are flexible and willing to adjust goals.
As a grounded executive, you understand the difference you make at all levels of the organization. You know what you have to contribute that is different and valuable. You encourage others to assert their individual differences knowing that it is those combined distinctions that lead to innovation.
Finally, developing executive presence is a continuous process. Even though the economic environment is fluid, executive presence is not. It is your personal demonstration of natural self-control and commitment to continual improvement no matter the current situation. As an executive, you are always remaking yourself. It is a thrilling and exciting process of development!
Sound impossible to you? To understand how you can develop desired aspects of your executive presence, go to www.self-expression.com/. We invite you to reach out to have a conversation to see if we can support the development of your executive presence.
Sandra Zimmer is the President and Founder of The Self-Expression Center in Houston, Texas. She works with professionals who are struggling with communication, who are gripped with fear about speaking to groups or who don’t like the sound of their voice. She guides people to develop professional and executive presence through experiential learning programs so they speak authentically in groups, meetings and presentations. Her programs connect them with their natural abilities to express, communicate and present so they feel confident to share their ideas, insights and expertise with the world.
Sandra can be reached at 281-293-7070 or at her website www.self-expression.com